News National Malcolm Turnbull calls on new citizens to become ‘Australian patriots’

Malcolm Turnbull calls on new citizens to become ‘Australian patriots’

australian patriots
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is facing a revolt on energy policy. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on new citizens to “join us as Australian patriots” in a speech laying out the government’s national security priorities on Tuesday.

“There is no more important title in our democracy than Australian citizen,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament.

“And we should make no apology for asking those who seek to join our Australian family to join us as Australian patriots, committed to the values that define us, committed to the values that unite us.”

The speech marked the start of the last sitting fortnight before the winter break and comes as the government introduces new legislation to toughen the requirements for prospective citizens.

The new laws mean permanent residents will have to wait an extra three years before applying for citizenship, will have to pledge allegiance to Australia, pass a stand-alone English test and show evidence they have integrated.

Describing Australia as the “most successful multicultural society in the world”, Mr Turnbull called on the opposition to support the changes.

Labor’s caucus met on Tuesday morning but has not formed a position because it is yet to see the legislation.

Bill Shorten
Bill Shorten has yet to form a position on the citizenship changes. Photo: ABC

The New Daily reported on Monday that the Human Rights Commission deemed the English test would so hard that “many” Australia-born citizens would fail.

Mr Turnbull also used the national security address to make the case for “stronger co-operation” from social media and messaging platforms in the fight against terror.

Most of the major platforms of this kind are based in the United States where a strong libertarian tradition resists it to [share] communications as they found when Apple would not unlock the iPhone of the dead San Bernardino terrorist,” he said.

“The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety.

“This is not about creating or exploiting back doors, as some privacy advocates continue to say, despite constant reassurance from us.

“It is about collaboration with and assistance from industry in the pursuit of public safety.”

Mr Turnbull said Attorney-General George Brandis would meet Australia’s Five Eyes security partners to ensure terrorists could not “operate with impunity in ungoverned digital spaces online”.

Senator Brandis has flagged a possible change to encryption laws to compel telecommunication and technology companies to assist security agencies with the decryption of messages.

In his national security address, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said terrorists were increasingly using hidden websites to “avoid detection, conduct planning and acquire capability and tools to carry out their evil actions”. 

He said not enough was known about the digital currency bitcoin and the use of the dark web.

Mr Shorten also called on large internet companies to realise they existed in a “two-way street”.

“They need to see this fight as their fight, not just our fight, not just a fight where they help when asked, but a fight in which they come to us with ideas,” he told Parliament.

Both leaders also referred to the recent terrorist attacks in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton and in London.

Mr Turnbull reiterated his concern about the fact Brighton siege gunman Yacqub Khayre had been released on parole.

“The Brighton murder was the fifth terror-related attack on our shores in three years,” he said. 

“All of us have asked how such a criminal, with such a long and well-known history of violence and terrorism could have been allowed parole?”

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula claimed on Tuesday that a number of Turnbull government ministers had “come dangerously close to contempt of court” in their recent criticism of the state’s courts.

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